Most helpful critical review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I found what I read to be thought-provoking.
on January 10, 2014
I've known about this book for a while, and was interested in reading it sometime. A class assignment for graduate school finally got me to pick it up and check out what Copan had to say. I found what I read to be thought-provoking. Here are some additional thoughts and summaries of the book:
Paul Copan starts his book, True For You But Not For Me, by stating that there is a real truth, and that having a different perspective on something does not eliminate the chance of discovering real truth. Furthermore, relativism (the belief that a universal objective truth does not exist) is merely an alternative perspective. The other side of the coin would be recognizing an absolute truth. To get there, Copan states that, “Knowledge involves (1) belief that is (2) true and (3) has warrant for being believed.” Relativism, would then be seen as a “knowledge-denying enterprise.”
Three different types of relativism are discussed. Religious relativism is the idea that a religion could be true for one person, but untrue for another. Moral relativism proposes that there is no, “objective ethical right and wrong and that morality is an individual or cultural matter.” Aesthetic relativism is the idea that all standards for art are equally valid – beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Copan outlines some insightful implications to relativism including: “Persuasion is prohibited,” “To be exclusivistic is to be arrogant,” “Tolerance is the cardinal virtue,” and, “Absent the possibility of truth, power rules the day.”
A common accusation made against Christians is that they are judgmental. Copan deals with this head on by saying that there is a difference between judging and being judgmental. Often, when this accusation is thrown, the accuser is trying to express the idea that it is “judgmental” to say that someone else is wrong. Copan would argue that being judgmental actually entails an attitude of superiority or arrogance, which includes a refusal to acknowledge God’s grace in another’s life. Accusations of intolerance go hand-in-hand with accusations of being judgmental. Copan believes that you tolerate things that you do not approve of, and that tolerance does not necessarily include the acceptance of other perspectives as legitimate.
“No Other Name”: The Question of the Unevangelized
Later in his book, Copan asks the question, “If Jesus is the only way of salvation, are those who don’t hear of him – those who remain outside the church – inevitably without hope and separated from God?” He then lays out three perspectives that attempt to address this issue: “The agnostic view,” “The inclusivist (wider-hope) view,” and, “The accessibilist/middle-knowledge view.”
The agnostic view is the idea that there is no way to know what to believe about the salvation of certain cultures or people. For example, some wonder what happened to all the people that were born before Christ came to Earth. About this, Copan states that God’s loving and just character gives us the assurance that he would not condemn someone for being born during the wrong time period. Likewise, he would not condemn someone for being born in a place where Christianity and Jesus are unknown. Another important point in this argument is that God is able to reach people in ways that we do not understand or expect. Can we not trust God, “who loves all without exception and who desires their salvation, to do his utmost so that none is prevented from experiencing salvation who truly desires it?”
The inclusivist (wider-hope) view simply states that the unevangelized are not inevitably lost, and that the opportunity for salvation is available to all (even if they had not heard the gospel preached). The two essential truths of inclusivists are stated as follows: (1) “Salvation is inclusive in its intended scope,” and (2) “Salvation is exclusive in its source.” Some have argued that this view eliminates the need for worldwide missions work because God can make a way for their salvation through each culture’s own religion. In reply to that, inclusivists would remind critics that God has commanded us to proclaim the gospel to all the nations, therefore we must. Copan takes his criticism of the inclusivist view to the next level with his critique that, “Inclusivism can blur important distinctions, which can result in idolatrous affirmations.” Copan also believes that Romans 1 disagrees with the inclusivist position, and that some people respond to the preaching of the gospel, but do not respond to general revelation.
Finally, the accessibilist/middle-knowledge view, “holds that there are three aspects (or ‘logical moments’) of God’s knowledge: natural, middle, and free.” Natural knowledge includes the range of possible worlds, Middle knowledge includes the range of feasible worlds, and Free knowledge includes the actual world. One tenet of this view aligns with the Open Theist view in that an accessibilist believes that, “God knows all future possibilities and free choices of human beings, and whoever would want to be saved will find salvation.” Another tenet of this view states that, “Perhaps there’s no feasible world of persons who all freely choose Christ; thus God creates a world containing an optimal balance of fewer lost and greatest number saved.” Accessibilist also hold to the idea that some people possess “transworld depravity” in which there is no world in which they would choose Christ. In this view, missions work is viewed as the action in which God’s human messengers bring the gospel to those that God knew would accept what they heard in the gospel message.